Ursid meteor shower is the last shooting star display of the year. Stargazers can expect to see 10 shooting stars per hour as the Earth passes through a zone of debris in the solar system left behind by comet 8P / Tuttle. Earth’s debris field is advancing as we speak, and the summit of the Ursid meteors will arrive shortly after midnight on December 21.
How can I see shooting stars?
Shooting stars originate from the Ursa Minor planetarium – hence the name Ursid – also known as the Little Dipper.
To find the Little Dipper, look almost literally magnetic north.
While the Big Dipper, which is easy to find, resembles a star formation that resembles the shape of an upright kite with a long tail, the Little Dipper is eastward and resembles an upside-down kite.
What makes the Little Dipper easier to find is that the tip of the ‘tail’ is the Polaris, also known as the North Star – one of the brightest stars at night that is almost straight north.
Be sure to find an area with clear skies – which can only be a task in December – and away from light pollution.
Thankfully, the Moon is still in its first quarter tonight, which reduces the amount of natural light pollution in the sky.
The Royal Greenwich Observatory said: “This year, the peak of the Ursids coincides with the moon of the first quarter, meaning that despite the sparse nature of the shower you can see just a few shooting stars.
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Unfortunately, the weather in mid-December can make it harder to spot specific shooting stars.
According to the Met Office, gray skies are expected tonight in most parts of the UK, though patches of clear skies may give you a glimpse.
The weather service said: “North and west are becoming confined to Scotland. For a while, keep chili rolling with clean spells.”
“Rain in the south-west spreads to England and Wales overnight. Wind in the south.”